Man on a bench clutching his bandaged knee.

Knee Pain: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Knee pain is a common issue that affects millions of people of all ages. There are different types and causes of knee pain. It may be the result of an injury, like torn cartilage or a ruptured ligament, but it can also be caused by arthritis, gout or an infection.

If you suffer from knee pain it’s important to pinpoint exactly where the pain is so you can find relief. Of course, the best thing to do is consult with your doctor or physical therapist so they can help you put together a suitable program.

However, many types of knee pain respond well to self-care measures… as long as you are using the correct treatment for your specific knee pain.

Most common types of knee pain

Let’s talk about the three most common types of knee pain… iliotibial band syndrome or ITB, runners knee (chondromalacia and patella femoral stress syndrome) and arthritis of the knee.

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Iliotibial band syndrome

If the pain is on the outside of your knee and runs up to your hip you may have iliotibial band syndrome or ITB. The iliotibial band is a fibrous band that extends from the hip to the knee and causes pain on the outside of the knee. The pain may gradually move up the side of the thigh and you may feel a snapping sensation when you straighten your bent knee.

Usually there’s not a lot of swelling and your range of motion in the knee joint should be normal. IT band problems can be caused by:

  • having high or low arches
  • having an uneven leg length
  • bowed legs or weak thigh muscles
  • supination where the feet turn outward and can cause friction and
  • inflammation to the IT band
  • wearing shoes that may be worn down too much
  • running on uneven pavement or down hills
  • a change in your normal workout routine

there are products and at-home exercises that can help relieve pain from IT band syndrome. Some good exercises include side stretches that keep the iliotibial band in range of motion, strengthening the quadriceps or thigh muscles, low-impact exercises such as riding a stationary bike or swimming.

Products that can help iliotibial band include stability braces, strengthening tape, cold therapy wraps and supportive shoes.

Runners knee

Now let’s discuss a second type of knee pain. If the pain is dull and around or under your kneecap you could have runner’s knee also called chondromalacia or patella femoral stress syndrome.

Vigorous activities like running (hence the name) or jumping may cause excessive stress and wear on the cartilage of the kneecap. This can lead to inflammation and erosion which can cause the cartilage to break down making it difficult to move your knee.

This condition most commonly appears in runners but it can also affect those who participate in activities that require a lot of knee bending like biking, jumping even walking.

Some of the factors that may contribute to runner’s knee are:

  • flat feet tight
  • weak thigh muscles
  • muscle imbalance
  • inadequate stretching
  • misalignment
  • overuse or injury

Exercises like stretching and strengthening the hamstrings and low-impact exercises that strengthen the quadriceps or thigh muscles are good at-home exercises to do if you suffer from runners knee.

Products that can help are patella straps, compression sleeves, adjustable knee braces, shock absorbing shoes or cushioned insoles for support.

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Arthritis of the knee

The last type of knee pain, arthritis of the knee, is the most common, especially in older people. Do you feel pain or weakness daily around your knee? If so then you may have an arthritic knee, which develops after years of strain to the ligaments and tendons that support the kneecap.

Arthritic knees can develop from daily activities that put pressure on the kneecap such as kneeling, squatting and climbing stairs. Weight gain also places stress on the knee.

There are a few symptoms that may indicate you have an arthritic knee. For example:

  • your pain and swelling tend to be worse in the morning or after a period of inactivity
  • you hear a cracking sound when you move
  • increased knee pain as the weather changes

Good exercises to do if you suffer from arthritis of the knee are leg stretches, hamstring stretches, half squats and leg raises.

There are also products that may help relieve the pain from arthritis of the knee, such as braces and supports, compression sleeves, warming therapy, and topical analgesics.

Knee pain - Symptoms, treatment and prevention. Discover what type of knee pain you have and what to do about it.

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